Glossary of Printing Terms

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Also known as "Z fold", this bindery term means two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.
Folding or feeding paper at right angles to the grain direction of the paper. Also called crossgrain.
All illustration material used in preparing a job for printing. May also refer to drawings and charts specifically.
Any part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body of the letter, such as in "d", "b" and "h".


Any type that tilts to the left or backward direction; opposite of italic type.
Black and white bars that hold information about your project including price.
The imaginary horizontal line upon which stands capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc.
Where materials go for assembly: cutting, folding, binding and boxing are some of the activities performed in bindery.
The rubberized surface material secured onto a cylinder onto which the ink is transferred from the plate and then to the paper.
Ink which prints beyond the trim edge of the page, created for the purpose of allowing ink to extend to the edge of the page after trimming. Without bleed, cutting the product becomes extremely difficult and may sacrifice the quality of the product. For best results, create a minimum 1/8" (0.125") bleed (past trim edge) on all edges where bleed is desired.


The measurement of the thickness of paper measured in thousandths of an inch or mils.
The four color values used in offset printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (also known as key).
A finishing term for gathering of sheets and signatures in a precise order.
A line of colored blocks in a row or a single color placed at the tail of the press sheet and used to measure the density of color across the width of a press sheet.
Slight differences in color between runs and within a run that is inherent in the offset printing process.
Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.
Hue of a subtractive primary and a 4-color process ink. It reflects or transmits blue and green light and absorbs red light.


An archaic term meaning print-ready, mechanical art.
The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes, and containers from printed sheets. Diecutting can be done on either flatbed or rotary presses, or specialized equipment. Rotary diecutting may be done inline on the printing press.
The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes, and containers from printed sheets. Diecutting can be done on either flatbed or rotary presses, or specialized equipment. Rotary diecutting may be done inline on the printing press.


Commercial transactions conducted electronically on the internet.
File review by a prepress expert who generates a PDF proof with printer's marks.
Impressing an image in relief to achieve a raised surface; either overprinting or on black paper, also known as blind embossing.
A file format used to transfer graphic images (primarily line art) within compatible applications. A file containing structured PostScript code, comments, and a screen display image. EPS images can be sized without loss of quality at different resolutions. PDF files may be used for the same purpose.


To cover a printed page with ink, varnish or plastic coating completely.
A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing/debossing.
An assortment of letters, numbers, punctuations, etc., of a given size and design.
The type size, style, typeface, margins, bleed, gutters, printing requirements, etc., of a printed piece.


A coating that adds a reflective shine to paper.
A strip of standard gray tones (in analog or digital form), ranging from white to black, placed at the side of original copy during photography to measure tonal range and contrast (gamma) obtained.


Printed pages of your project using the same materials as your final product to produce an example before printing.
The coding language that is used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web.
The main attribute of a color that distinguishes it from other colors.


The positioning of pages on a signature so that after printing, folding, and cutting, all pages will appear in the proper sequence.
A rotating cylinder in the press machine that applies pressure to paper as ink is being rolled onto the surface.
A number pertaining to your book that distributors use to sell and track your product.


To align sheets of paper into a compact, even pile.


The narrowing of space between two letters so that they become closer and take up less space on the page.
A paper or board containing unbleached wood pulp (brown in color) made by the sulfate process.


A plastic film coating bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.


Hue of a subtractive primary and a 4-color process ink. It reflects or transmits blue and red light and absorbs green light.
Dull paper finish without gloss or lustre.


Film containing an image in which the values of the original are reversed so that the dark areas in the subject appear light on the film, and vice versa.


The process of using an intermediate blanket cylinder to transfer an image from the image carrier to the substrate. Also, short for offset lithography.
A transparent covering over the copy where color break, instructions, or corrections are marked. Also, transparent or translucent prints that, when placed one on the other, form a composite picture.
Double printing; printing over an area that already has been printed.
Additional copies printed in excess of the specified quantity.


The total number of pages in a book or other publication including blanks.
The thickness of paper stock.
A binding process where the signatures of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive.
A typesetting unit of measure equaling 1/6th of an inch.
A metal sheet installed into the press that indicates where ink will transfer onto paper.
A universal color matching system that is categorized by numbers.
Digital printing methodology that prints books and other projects on an as needed basis.
An abbreviation for pixels per inch.
When a client visits a printing company/location to view actual printed sheets of their project before full production press run is started.
Self-adhesive paper covered by a backing sheet.
Marks placed on your digital files or printed sheets that determine different elements such as trim, center, registration, color.
A presentation of your file's quality either digitally or printed.


A price estimate to produce a specific printed piece, frequently with custom attributes not priceable in standard online pricing tools.


500 sheets of paper
The positioning of two or more images in exavt alignment with each other.
Using multiple ink colors in addition to black to produce a deep, dark black color. Common CMYK values used are 60% cyan/40% magenta/40% yellow/100% black.
Computer color model where red, green and blue light are used to create a variety of colors.


To fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle fold or spine of folded sheets.
To crease paper with a metal rule for the purpose of making folding easier.
The printing of two different images on two different sides of a sheet of paper by turning the sheet over after the first side is printed and using the same gripper and side guides.
Folded parent sheets of eight, sixteen, or thirty-two pages.
Special pre-mixed ink, often specified by use of a PMS (Pantone Matching System) color number.


The ability to print a wet ink film over previously printed ink. See dry trapping and wet trapping.
Marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page.
The final size of a printed piece after being cut from the sheet of paper that it was printed on.


The difference between the radius of the cylinder bearers and the cylinder body, to allow for plate (or blanket) and packing thickness.
Refers to the combination of inking, plate, and impression operations to print each color. A 4-color press has four printing units each with its own inking, plate, and impression functions.
A term used to describe how many similar pieces can be printed on a larger sheet; two-up, four-up, etc.
A very shiny and durable high-gloss coating applied to printed material. Applied as a liquid and then cured with ultraviolet light.


A form of on-demand printing in which elements (such as text, graphics, photographs, etc) can be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the press, using information from a database.
Examples include:
  • personalized letters - with the same basic layout but contains a different name and address on each letter.
  • mailers - same basic layout but contains different graphics based on type of clientele and contains a different name and address on each mailer.
A clear liquid applied to printed surfaces for looks and protection.
An illustration in which the background or image fades gradually away until it disappears by blending into areas of the unprinted paper.


A color with a yellowish or reddish cast.
A distinctive logo or design created in paper at the time of manufacture that can be seen by holding the paper up to light.
Is printing wet ink over previously printed wet ink.
A single word or part of a word on a line by itself, ending a paragraph, or starting a page, frowned upon in good typography. Sometimes called an orphan.
Printing one side of a sheet and turning it over from left to right, using the same side guides and plate for the second side.
A smooth paper with a gentle patterned finish.


Hue of a subtractive primary and a 4-color process ink. It reflects red and green light and absorbs blue light.


A file or folder compressed into a smaller archive. It takes up less hard drive space and less time to transfer across a network or the Internet.

Carqueville Printing Company,
An RR Donnelley Company

1536 Bourbon Parkway
Streamwood, IL 60107
p. 630.837.4500
f. 630.837.4510